And when you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not wholly reap the corners of your field…
How notable are the provisions made in the Mosaic Law for the poor.
1. The Sabbatical year (Exodus 23. 10, 11; cf. Deuteronomy 15:12, 15).
2. The equalisation of the atonement money for poor and rich, thus establishing the value of the poor as equal to the rich (Exodus 30:12).
3. The same minute directions for the poor man's offerings, showing God's equal interest in his sacrifice (chap. 2. &c.)
4. And here the command that the harvest and vintage gleanings should be left (vers. 9, 10). Notice —
I. THAT THE HUMANE LAWS OF MODERN TIMES, respecting gleaning privileges, are all based upon this Mosaic command. Everywhere there is a popular feeling that the farmer should allow, and was not entitled to prevent the poor from gathering what the reaper left behind. In England the custom of gleaning had very nearly passed into a legal right, for there is an extra judicial dictum of Lord Hall, in which he says that those who enter a field for this purpose are not guilty of trespass; and Blackstone (3:12) seems to adopt his opinion. But that has since been twice tried, and decided in the negative in the Court of Common Pleas; the Court finding it to be a practice incompatible with the exclusive enjoyment of property, and productive of vagrancy and many mischievous consequences. "It is still, however, the custom all over England to allow the poor to glean, at least after the harvest is carried" (Chambers).
II. THAT A BENEVOLENT HELPFULNESS IN RESPECT OF THE POOR IS A SPECIAL OBLIGATION OF THOSE WHO ENJOY PLENTY.
1. With God in thought the rich will spare of their abundance that the poor may be fed. You owe all to Him, especially in harvest; and, therefore, share with the needy His gifts to you.
2. Amid harvest rejoicings, gratitude should incite to generosity. "As ye have received, give!" Seek occasion to gladden others — those in need. God is lavish; let your "hands be open" also (Psalm 145:16).
3. Kindness to the poor has especial assurances of Divine approval (Psalm 9:18; Psalm 12:5).
III. THAT THIS GENEROUS CONSIDERATION FOR THE POOR IS A TOKEN OF GOD'S REGARD FOR THE LOWLY.
1. Their maintenance engaged the Divine attention. For them "the corner" of the field was claimed from the reapers, and to them was assigned the right to clear the ground. It was their part in the national soil, the poor had this heritage in the land. And God enjoins on His Church now to "care for the poor." They are Christ's bequeathment to His disciples. "The poor always ye have with you."
2. Their salvation is prominently sought in the gospel. "To the poor the gospel is preached." And "God hath chosen the poor rich in faith." He who showed concern for their physical supply and maintenance, as emphatically manifests His desire that they be "blessed with all spiritual blessings" in Christ. Therefore —
(1) The poor should cherish a grateful and trustful hope in their God.
(2) They should value the high mercies of redemption in Christ beyond all the kindnesses of His providence. For the favours of providence only affect them temporally, but "the riches of His grace" are of eternal consequence.
(3) Let none, because of lowliness or poverty, despond of God's favour. All His regulations prove that "He careth for you." Look unto Him with assurance.
(W. H. Jellie.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And when ye reap the harvest of your land, thou shalt not wholly reap the corners of thy field, neither shalt thou gather the gleanings of thy harvest.